Is Dental Insurance Worth It for ME?


The economy understandably has many folks carefully considering what changes they can make to save a little more here and there to pad their pocketbooks even just a bit more.  Before perusing your couch cushions or looking under your mattress, test your Dental Insurance IQ to help you decide if it’s still worth having, or if your hard-earned money would be better put to use elsewhere.

1) True or False—Patients “have” to have dental insurance to be seen.

Answer- FALSE. 

Most offices see patients with or without dental insurance…a smile’s a smile, regardless of insurance status!

2) True or False—Dentistry would be completely unaffordable without dental insurance.

Answer- FALSE.

While it’s true that patients with dental insurance often have a minimal co-pay (if any) for some services (such as routine active maintenance cleanings), and they do receive a more substantial benefit for other services, the premiums paid over the course of the year can easily equal or surpass that which a patient without dental insurance would pay.

3) True or False—Dental insurance covers all types of dental treatment.

Answer- FALSE. 

Although most insurance companies do cover routine services at least in part (active maintenance cleanings, exams, x-rays, fillings, crowns, etc.), it’s less typical for services such as mouthguards (to prevent destructive nighttime grinding), adult orthodontics (Invisalign), sportsguards, or veneers to be covered.  Teeth whitening is typically not a covered benefit under plans, and patients in need of relief from painful TMJ-related symptoms will likely be out-of-luck insurance-wise as well.

4) True or False—A dentist’s on “the list” for an insurance company—this automatically means they’re a good dentist, right?


Really, what this means is that a dentist has signed up with that particular company to accept a lesser amount of reimbursement for services in exchange for inclusion in their promotional materials.  It in no way represents the quality of work or experience of a dentist. 

Patients at reputable offices have become accustomed to the exceptional quality of dentistry offered, the highest quality of labs and materials used, and the top-notch patient care provided.  To continue to do this, many offices are careful to work only with companies that do not compromise what patients have come to appreciate and expect. 

Researching a dentist—checking their website, viewing examples of their work, checking online for reviews, asking around, etc. will help you to decide whether the dentist is the right fit for you.

5) True or False—Patients can only go to dentists that are on “the list” with their insurance companies.

ANSWER- Trick Question! 

So much is going to depend on the particular insurance plan—although some plans only pay benefits when patients go “in network”, the majority of plans do offer some level of benefits regardless of which dentist a patient chooses.  Many offices are still able to work with most insurance companies, handle the paperwork, and file it on the patient’s behalf.  But, of course, this is something that varies so much from company to company.  The best way to know for sure is to contact the front office team at the office, so they can check to see how benefits would work at that particular office.

Article by
Columbia Dentist